Lessons from the Boiling Pot

Springtime down the bayou signals that it’s time to enjoy not only the weather but one of our cultural trademarks–the crawfish boil.

The crawfish, a lowly freshwater crustacean, was once a food that only the poorest of bayou people would eat.  Now, Louisiana has a hard time producing 90% of the total consumed in the world, with about 70% of those being consumed right here in our state.  While growing up in north Louisiana in the sixties, crawfish were something we caught in the ditch and played with.  I had heard that some folks used them as fishing bait but had certainly never heard of boiling and eating them.  It was not until I moved to south Louisiana in the late seventies that I participated in my first crawfish boil.

It’s amazing how something akin to a dark red bug that lives in the mud can become the centerpiece of festive family gatherings and be shipped around the world as a delicacy.  It just proves the old adage that looks can be deceiving.  But, looks aren’t everything!

Along with the 2012 crawfish season has come several changes to our family.  The first of which is the fact that I acquired a daughter-in-law earlier this year.  Our second oldest son, Danno and the love of his life, Lil Red, eloped in Las Vegas.  Yes, it was a surprise, and there wasn’t a lot of fanfare, but they are happily hitched nonetheless.  We have all welcomed her into the family, and I hope their love and devotion lasts forever and a day.  Danno is a tugboat captain and only six months away from having his “Masters of Towing Unlimited” license.  At 24, that is nearly unheard of.

Another very positive change is that our oldest son, Daboo, has recently moved back here from the big city life of New Orleans to be closer to the family and to provide support where needed.  We’re happy to have him closer to home, and this crawfish boil was our first family get together at his new place.   Both he and Danno work for the same company.  David works as a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Tankerman on the biggest tugboat their company owns.  Maybe the next change for him will be to have deserving young woman capture his heart and make his life complete.

Daboo hosted our annual spring event at his new residence, and everyone chipped in to help, except me.  It was very nice to just show up and not have to do much of anything.  As I watched my children work together during the boil, I was able to sit back and reflect upon how they’ve grown and changed over the years and how proud I am of their accomplishments.

Dotter and MuzicMan, both amazing musicians, continue to share their talents and their love of music with folks of all ages.  As her day job, Dotter teaches the Talented and Gifted music program for Lafourche Parish public schools.  After school, she teaches private piano lessons, and on Sundays she plays piano and keyboards at church.  Then there is the occasional wedding, funeral, and summer musical to play for.

Daily, MuzicMan can be found teaching music to elementary students at a private school.  After school, he too teaches private music lessons.  Sundays find him leading music at two morning services and the children’s choir practice in the afternoon.  And then, in his spare time (of which he has little to spare), he plays guitar and sings in Voodoo Bayou Band!

While Miah is not growing in stature, his mind is expanding by leaps and bounds. I am so proud of this young man as neither his height nor his label keep him from moving forward with his life. This year he enjoys Community Based Instruction, where he goes into the community with his teacher and classmates.  He has mastered riding the city bus, reading the menu and ordering his own meals, and making purchases at local stores using the “next dollar up” method.  He and his classmates plan a meal, construct a grocery list, shop for and purchase those items, and then return to the classroom to cook a meal and enjoy it together.  It is our goal for him to become as independent as he can become in order to be happy and well adjusted.  And I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that EVERYWHERE we go in our town, population 40K+, someone greets this amazing you man and calls him BY NAME.  He never meets a stranger and makes friends everywhere he goes.

And then there is the last pumpkin on the vine.  In the past six months, Termite has transformed about 99% of his baby fat into teen-aged muscle and has put that new body to work for the Freshman baseball team.  Now, halfway through his first season, he has proven himself as a starting shortstop and is learning how to pitch.  This is his first year to play on what he calls a “good team”, and he has expressed to me more than once how good it feels to be part of this team.  As long as he continues to hold his own in his Honors classes, baseball will continue to be a big part of his high school career.  And since I believe baseball is the “game of life”, if he continues to play ball, he will be well prepared for the next phase of his life, post-high school, whatever that might be.

This post didn’t start out being about my family.  Rather, it started out being about how to boil a good batch of crawfish.  But the best-laid posts of BW sometimes take on a life of their own.  This tells me that somewhere out there, some of you are wondering about our family dynamics and just how things are going.  While this post is certainly not an exhaustive one about how fantastic I think my kids are, our family trials and struggles, or their new career pursuits, it’s more about how to boil a good batch of crawfish than I first realized.

First, you throw your kids in the a pot of boiling life, add salt and spices, a few side items, and let them go until they are ready to serve to the world.

And I have to say, this batch turned out pretty darn good.

Suck the heads and pinch the tails!


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  1. What a very nice introduction to your children! It’s so interesting to hear a little background about the family. You have every reason to be proud, BW! And you don’t look old enough to have gotten all those people to this point in their lives, either!

    1. Carolyn, first I have to say a big THANKS for the compliment; however, with working in the sun, those wrinkles are getting harder and harder to hide, despite the fact that I use sunscreen! I won’t say my age but I will say two things: I got a relatively late start having children 2)I have 7 pregnancies between 1982 and 1996, producing five lovely, living babies! And I guess I was probably barefoot most of that time, too! As a matter of fact, I’m barefoot right now but way past the fear of being the “P” word EVER again!!!!!

  2. What a terrific post! Of course you’re proud of them. Crawfish are tasty and all, but there’s only so much you can say about them. I suspect the stories involving these characters could go on and on and on….

    This is crawfish boil weather for sure. It’s beautiful here – hope it’s dried out for you. I ought to be out working on the boats, but I decided I was going to get myself all caught up, blogwise, so I could not be so distracted this week. There are a lot of events coming up and deadlines to meet, so it’s going to be a busy week.

    I’m curious – when you talk about Miah learning to ride the city bus, is that in Houma? Must be. I don’t remember seeing buses running up and down in front of Camp DuLarge!

    1. Linda, with all I have (otherwise) on my plate these days, focus is something that is hard to come by; and you never cease to amaze me with the lines of poignant prose you manage to string together after the loss of your dear mom and the aftermath of adjusting to the feeling of being an orphan. Even though I do have siblings, children, nieces, and nephews, I know exactly the orphaned feeling. Mother passed away in 1991, I grieved, took a deep breath and life continued; but when Daddy passed away in 1996, THAT is when I felt so parent-less. I’m sure many of our readers have experienced the same feelings. So, while maybe not to the same degree as you, I know how you feel and can sympathize with you. However, if your writing is any indication of how you’re faring, it appears you are faring well. So, my friend, keep on varnishing and writing, and I will be here to read! PS Yes, Miah rides the city bus in Houma. His Community Based Instruction is part of his public high school curriculum. BW

    1. Hi Chris, we are living life to the best we can, and those moments when we are a family are certainly my earthly treasures! You will look back soon upon your two girls and wonder where in the world the time went!

  3. Loved the post. You have every right to be the proud mother of your family and they have every right to be proud of their mom.

    I know I am proud of my kiddos and grandkids. One of them wishes to be a music teacher too. He and his friend composed a song, played it at an audition for a college scholarship and got accepted and won their scholarships. So, I know how you feel when they show their talents and determination.

    Congrats to you on a great job and to them on knowing that you were doing things that were best for them and following thru.

    And, our annual crawfish boil is this coming Saturday at my sons. Going to be a BIG ONE this time.

    1. Cammy, y’all are going to have a good time, cher! Scholarships are definitely an accomplishment to be proud of, and I know you are. I tell all young moms that good parenting really is hard work, but the rewards are worth every minute of it. And the other thing I remind them, is to protect their children for as long as they can, because NO ONE else is going to do that for you!!! So, enjoy your progeny while y’all suck a few heads and pinch a few tails!!! Where will your mudbugs come from? BW

      1. We have a grocery store here that if we order them before Tuesday, they will be trucked in from LA on Saturday am. Not sure exactly where in your great state they come from but, so far, every order I or friends have placed have been top quality with only a handful if any, that didn’t make it. They are a nice, decent size too as the pictures I sent you showed.
        This time, it is at the sons home and will include double what I normally have since he has lots of friends coming out to the boil/bbq. I have been recruited to bring blackberry cobbler, homemade salsa & chips by the granddaughter.

  4. I enjoyed all the baby owl posts, but I like this one about your babies best, Very impressive brood you have here, Captain MotherHen. You didn’t mention MuzicMan’s first name, and I couldn’t tell which of the boys in the band was him. I’ve forgotten your last name.

    Girl, you are going to have so many grandbabies some day. You’re going to love being a grandmother. You’ll be taking pictures of them and posting them here with funny little baby stories, Mother Hen that you are. Thanks for sharing your children with us. Hope the Captain is doing well too.

    I love crawfish!

    1. YOU’VE FORGOTTEN MY LAST NAME? Shame, shame, shame! Just kidding with ya! That just means it’s been too long since we’ve exchanged emails! MuzicMan is the “baby of the band”, and that is what they call him. So, if you go back to the Voodoo Bayou web site and see a good looking young man with a head full of dark hair, that would be him. I could never have asked for a better son-in-law. He’s one of the most caring people I’ve ever met, which is a tribute to his parents, no doubt! I’m not so sure about the grand babies, though. Even though (I think) my kids had a pretty happy upbringing, none of them are in a hurry to be parents! Dotter is already two years behind where I was when she was born (no pressure, Dotter!); but it doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine my life being more fulfilled as far as offspring go, but I have heard that being a grandmother is the ultimate reward for not strangling your kids when they were teens!!!!!

  5. I really think we are the long lost family, lol. So much of your family reminds me of ours. I wish we had time to have met Dotter while we were there, Coach would have loved to have sang with them. Did you know he leads our church choir? Bryce will be putting himself on the next bus to your house for crawdads! He loves them.

    1. Did I ever tell you that The Captain played guitar and led music at the Baptist Church, I led the singing, Dotter sang and played the keyboard, Daboo played the bass guitar, and Danno played the drums? Miah and Termite are the only two who have not explored their musical talents. BUT I must say that Miah can memorize a music video and has Michael Jackson’s moves down pat; as well as all the moves to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies’. AS a matter of fact, he just recently had a surgical procedure, and when I went back to recovery, he had the nurse singing that song while he did the moves in his recovery bed. It was HILARIOUS!!! They were having a party back there and weren’t near ready for him to leave!!! And oh by the way, if the whole family can’t come this summer, please consider sending Bryce down for a week BEFORE it gets too hot!!! We will take him to Last Island in the Gulf and I’ll make him read about it, so it will be a Living History Lesson!!! We will get together and make music next time the whole family comes down okay? Nat can teach Dotter an Indian song and they can make beautiful harmonies together. Memories that life is made of my friend . . . .

  6. 🙂 dusting off the crawfish pot!
    You ought to be proud of yourself and your family! There is no better gift you can give the world than a well-raised child! You done good, girlfriend!

    1. Scarlet, my new best friend, you have no idea what that statement did for my ego, my pride, and my self esteem. Because when I decided to home school my kids, way down in bayou country in the early eighties, doing so was not an accepted or popular idea. My parents thought birthing three children had damaged my brain. (well maybe to some degree!). Keeping them home, enduring, and protecting their innocence for as long as I possibly could (with the advent of cable TV and the Internet) has paid off; but while we were living it, the proof was not yet in the pudding. Well, so far, the pudding’s have turned out pretty good! I know pride goes before the fall, so I must also confess that while my kids are far from perfect and have all made some stupid/bad choices, they had a good foundation to come back to. And that, girlfriend, is worth all that criticism any of the nay-sayers doled out back in the day. So, thank you so much for your confirming words that I just might have done something right!

  7. That Crawfish pot looked brand new! Y’all really need to do something about that, as in Shrimp boils, crab boils, and more crawfish boils. They really work well with boiling peanuts too!. How much are crawfish going for in your area? They’ve come down a little here, but still not enough to be able to feed my crew! There are just too many of us! A few of the grandchildren will eat as much as an adult. I think they stand up just so they can fill up thier skinny legs! This is making my mouth water! OK, just made an Executive decision…Poop on the rest of the family. I’m gonna go buy 10 lbs (already boiled) for me and Hubby to have a taste!

  8. I guess that is the southern version of family life. Older I get the more my childhood seems a endless stream of hot dog cookouts, ice cream socials, and get to gathers at family cabin on the river…

    Vegas is the only place really to get married if you are going to…
    Well maybe NOLA if your from here it seems….

    33 days from retirement…

    blu has a new fish cooker that could use a big crawfish pot and a jambalaya pot too.

    oh and let me think…. I think eye black is banned up here.

    Termite should work on his punting….

    After a week of 80’s back in low 40’s frozen tundra.

    Need more fishing reports.

    1. 33 days from retirement? Wow, that’s getting close! Down here, the fish cookers don’t throw a big enough flame for boiling seafood–takes too long for the water to boil and re-boil. Termite would LOVE to play football . . . but his mother won’t allow it. Cold again, eh? Too bad. It was in the 80’s yesterday . . . like a summer day, all too soon for me. Need more fishing PERIOD.

  9. Well I am thinking about a 3-5 day blast soon like 10th-15th April
    Have to chat with CwitdeR or M_D or ????

  10. So happy to have met you and Seth this past weekend and to have found your blog! I loved the crawfish stew recipe and am definitely going to try that out 🙂

    Hope to hear from you and see you again soon!

    1. I’m so happy to have met you (my first real live Islenos!), such an accomplished young woman. I’m sorry I didn’t get a pic of you in your tiara for a blog post story about you and the pageant! Good luck finishing up this semester, and I hope we stay in touch, too! BW

    2. I am to happy to have met you, too, Ashley! I just regret that I didn’t get any photos of you at all — I especially wanted one with you wearing your tiara so I could include you in anything I might write about the visit. I hope we stay in touch, too. Good luck with your last semester for your master’s and I know you’ll have that law degree in no time! BW